The Aistear Síolta Practice Guide explains the purpose of and audience for the Guide and outlines the meaning of the word ‘curriculum’ as used in Aistear, in Síolta and in the Guide. It also gives an overview of the structure of the Practice Guide and describes the aspects of Aistear and Síolta that it focuses on.
The purpose of the Practice Guide is to support practitioners in using Aistear: the Early Childhood Curriculum Framework (2009a) and Síolta, The National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education (2006) together to develop the quality of their curriculum and in doing so, to better support children’s learning and development. The Practice Guide is based on the understanding that settings are compliant with, or are working to become compliant with The Child Care (Pre-School Services) (No. 2) Regulations (Department of Health and Children (DHC), 2006). The Practice Guide includes a range of resources to help practitioners to critically reflect on their curriculum and to identify what works well.
Aistear, the Early Childhood Curriculum Framework for early learning (2009) supports practitioners in planning for and providing enriching, challenging and enjoyable learning opportunities for children from birth to six years. Similar to Síolta, Aistear is for all children from birth to six years, it can be used by parents and practitioners in sessional services, full and part-time day care settings, infant classes in primary schools, childminding settings and in children’s own homes. The framework was developed by the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment (NCCA).
Aistear presents children’s learning and development through four interconnected themes:
- Identity and Belonging
- Exploring and Thinking
Síolta is the National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education (2006). Síolta is a quality assurance process which addresses all aspects of practice in early childhood care and education services. The Síolta framework is accompanied by manuals for full day care, part-time and sessional services and childminders and infant classes. The manuals outline the Principles, Standards, Components of Quality and Signposts for Reflection.
The Síolta standards are as follows;
Standard 1: Rights of the child
Standard 2: Environments
Standard 3: Parents and Families
Standard 4: Consultation
Standard 5: Interactions
Standard 6: Play
Standard 7: Curriculum
Standard 8: Planning and Evaluation
Standard 9: Health and Welfare
Standard 10: Organisation
Standard 11: Professional Practice
Standard 12: Communication
Standard 13: Transitions
Standard 14: Identity and Belonging
Standard 15: Legislation and Regulation
Standard 16: Community Involvement
An outline of each of these standards together with the principles and components of Síolta can be sourced at, www.siolta.ie